Uric acid, the waste product excreted by the kidneys, has been linked to heart and kidney disease in the past but this evidence has largely been inconclusive. Li and colleagues reviewed the evidence from a series of studies, and found possible links to heart failure, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and gout.
Uric acid is the waste product excreted by the kidneys after the breakdown of the body’s cells. Typically, doctors measure blood serum uric acid levels in order to diagnose conditions such as gout or kidney failure. However, in the past, serum uric acid levels have been linked to heart disease and other conditions.
Li and colleagues reviewed existing clinical studies and published their findings on the link between serum uric acid and various conditions in BMJ. The researchers used a variety of statistical methods to compare the results from different kinds of studies, including 76 meta-analyses of observational studies, 20 meta-analyses of randomized control trials and 107 Mendelian randomization studies.
The researchers found that hypertension and chronic kidney disease were consistently linked to serum uric acid levels. However, although there was some suggestion of a link between serum uric acid levels and heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and risk of death of heart disease, many of these links were not consistent or significant. The Mendelian randomization studies showed significant relationships between serum uric acid levels and gout, arterial diseases, and kidney disease.
Li and colleagues suggest that treating serum uric acid levels as a means of treating cardiovascular disease or other, non-kidney diseases, is unwarranted. The reviewed studies generally did not have sufficiently large sample sizes to adequately estimate the significance of different relationships, and Li and colleagues did not assess the quality of the studies they included in their review.
Written By: C. I. Villamil